By Steven Schauder, JFS Executive Director
All across the country, the following scene plays out. A pediatrician sees a child and the child exhibits signs of depression, social isolation, and anxiety. Like the good doctor she is, she refers the parents to seek mental health counseling. The catch? Try finding an available mental health therapist to treat the child. A recent New York Times article reported that a “survey in Annals of Family Medicine found that 85-percent of primary-care practices are having difficulty accessing evidence-based mental-health care for children. Nationally, some children are waiting six months to a year for help.”
Even prior to the COVID pandemic, the CDC was warning of a mental health crisis among young people. They reported that between 2013 and 2019, ADHD and anxiety were the most common mental disorders among those 3 to 17 years old, with each condition affecting one in eleven children. More than one in five 12- to 17-year-olds experienced a major depressive episode. Yet in 2019, fewer than 15 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17 received some kind of mental-health treatment. And the stress and isolation caused by Covid has only exacerbated the situation for those families seeking mental health for their children.
As an agency with the word “family” in our name, JFS is committed to providing support for the families of our community. We are so proud to employ three outstanding mental health therapists under the leadership of Mynd Works director, Wendy Halperin. We are pleased to share that we will be adding a second Child Mental Health Therapist in the weeks ahead to expand our ability to help children heal and reach their full potential.
If you, or someone you know is seeking therapy, please call us at 717-233-1681 or go to our website to learn more about our Mynd Works counseling program.
And for anyone uncomfortable coming to JFS to seek counseling, I’ll share my own story. In 2002, while going through a divorce, I sought counseling with JFS in another community. As the executive director position of a local Jewish organization, I was offered the chance to avoid sitting in the waiting room, so as to avoid the perceived stigma of being in therapy. I politely declined the offer, because I felt that being seen seeking help should be looked at as a badge of honor, not shame. Asking for help is a sign of strength—not weakness. And if you are not comfortable seeking help from JFS, I urge you to seek help elsewhere—as long as you get the help you need.
To seek mental health counseling through JFS, please contact us at 717-233-1681 or at jfsofhbg.org.